OrangeMoJoJo Sets Aside Her Principles For Tasty Eggnog Lattes

I'll admit it - I really like Starbucks coffee - ESPECIALLY their Eggnog Latte, one of their seasonal drinks that makes an appearance each year from November through January. I'm probably going to have one or two of these over the next couple of months - especially since I'm going to be leaving for Seattle, Starbucks' home base, on Wednesday to do work-related stuff. I'll admit my weakness for Starbucks - it's no secret!

I've been struggling the past few months with a decision I'd made to ban Starbucks until I felt they'd resolved a union complaint (or several) made against them. See, I LIKE Starbucks. They're mochas are consistently yummy, the baristas are almost always pleasant, and their coffee has helped get me through more committee meetings than I can count. Besides their coffee and mochas, though, on a larger scale, I like that they sell and promote fair trade coffee. Their Cafe Estima blend is fair trade, and, in my opinion, the tastiest of the brews they sell (I was a die-hard Sulawesi fan until I tried Cafe Estima). I like that they extend their benefits to the partners of gay couples, and that their benefits are really quite extensive and generous. I like that my brother worked there and liked the job so much he stayed there longer than he has at any job since (ie: > more than 4 months). I like their stupid seasonal travel mugs. I like that they're outspokenly liberal. I like that there's one always within walking distance so I always have someplace cozy and safe and incognito to lounge when I'm travelling on business and want to get away from everyone. I like that they collect Toys for Tots, and Books for Children, and that they urge their customers to recycle their coffee grounds by using them as compost, going so far as supplying a coffee ground depository within each store so eco-friendlies can collect them and use them in their gardens. I like that they sell items from which they'll donate up to a buck a sale to needy children. I like that they donate money to the democratic party. (thanks a latte, Starbucks, for supporting the democrats!) I like that there's actually a corporation out there - a HUGE one - that I actually think uses it's money to try to do some good and raise awareness. Of course they're raking in FAR more than they're putting out ($12.00 for 1/2 lb of Ethiopian coffee? Eeep!), but they really seem to try to keep themselves concious for the most part.

A dear close friend of mine has had nothing to do with them since they charged
firemen for the water they took on September 11, 2001, for example. Yes, they did reimburse the fire department, but it shouldn't have happened in the first place.

More recently (as in "now") Starbucks has been having labor issues from London to Chicago. Former employees are claiming that Starbucks fired them solely on the basis of their exercising their right to organize a union. This is, to put it mildly, not sitting well with me, and I am glad the union is pursuing the matter. However, it seems that the union effort is finally taking hold, though there is more ground to gain. I'm finding it hard to find the facts on both sides, so if you can supply me with them, please do so. I am finding plenty stating that these employees (most recently Isis Saenz) were fired simply for trying to unionize, but one of them (Gross) is reported to have threatened a manager.

When I was working at CVS a union tried to organize us pharmacy technicians and Corporate sent each of us a letter - along with our paychecks - saying that a union
wasn't in our best interest. The hell it wasn't! Looking back, I'd work up to 10 hours (rarely - usually it was only 8) without so much as a break, only to have Corporate take out 1/2 hour for a lunch I'd never ingested . Depending on the pharmacist, I was often forced to punch out on time even if I worked over (I refused to ever work with these pharmacists again). If this happened once or twice, that would suck, but this happened again and again and again. I had it pretty good, though, next to the pharmacists. They'd sometimes work 16+ hours in a row their so-called "relief" decided to call in and no coverage could be found. God forbid the pharmacy should ever for a minute close! We didn't have a way to close it, now that I think of it....


I still shop at CVS though, because Walgreens treated us far, far worse, and I'll never, EVER set foot in a Walmart unless Shannon's life, or that of one of my pets, depends on it.

Back to the coffee talk!

Alternatives to Starbucks:

When my favorite coffee house in the Chicagoland area - Urbis Orbis in Wicker Park - went out of business *tear!!,* I had originally thought it was Starbucks' fault. Turns out it was MTV's! They'd taken the building to use as the site of the Wicker Park season of The Real World. My favorite coffee house since then has been Cafe Express in Evanston, and my favorite drink there is their Dante mocha (a mocha with half a mandarin orange squeezed in - YUM!!!). For those of you who absolutely will NOT patronize Starbucks, you'll appreciate the prominently displayed bumper sticker on the wall which reads "FRIENDS DO NOT LET FRIENDS DRINK STARBUCKS". Cafe Express is followed closely by another wonderful coffee shop in Evanston - The Kafein, whose 3-shot Zombie has given Northwestern students the liquid ability to pull all-night cramming sessions for at least 15 years. If you don't live in Evanston or are too groggy to drive there, Caribou Coffee has quite a few locations countrywide. For a really good, really fattening mocha, try Caribou Coffee's Campfire Mocha. Note to dieters - even if you go for skim milk, you HAVE to get the campfire mocha WITH whip cream AND marshmallows AND chocolate shavings, or it's just a skim mocha. The extras are what makes it so darn good!

My very VERY favorite, and least accessible, coffee shop is Queen's Lane Coffee Shop in Oxford where I spent many many hours studying and staring out at High Street, watching the real students (I was a transfer student) take their exams in all their splendour across the street at Uni Hall. They'd start arriving in a thin trickle beginning round 7AM, then a steady stream of bicycles and black robes would flow towards the doors until 8:45, then up until 9:05AM a few extremely flustered and anxious students would be BOOKING it full-speed towards the Hall, frantic about being even a moment too late, red-faced with their robes streaming behind them. While they took their exams, I studied life in Outremer, relieved that I didn't have to take those exams, yet more than a touch envious all the same....

This is not the view from Queen's Lane's window, but rather nearer the
Sheldonian where Oxford grads matriculate from.
This guy just looked so dang happy exams were over with!

Grads outside the Sheldonian

But I digress.

Shannon and I are trying to become more conscious about buying fair trade products - especially chocolate and coffee. Aside from being fair trade, Peace Coffee is one of the best coffees I've tasted. I've switched from Starbucks' Cafe Estima to Peace Coffee, available at Whole Foods or online.

Incidentally, the latte foam art pictures were found on this Website: http://www.latteart.org/Your_Cappuccino.htm


Mu said...

Rico Latte is Fair Trade as well. You know, if you EVER come to Ohio again...

OrangeMoJoJo said...

And Rico Latte has the best ORANGE t-shirts EVER!

Shannon said...

I do believe that Jo and/or I have come to Ohio more than SOME people have come to Chicago since Jo and I started dating.

Then again, I guess I haven't found a great place for hot chocolate to temp said some people.

OrangeMoJoJo said...

Moonstruck, Ghiardelli, South Bend Chocolate Co., and Caribou all have awesome hot chocolate

Shannon said...

I wasn't a huge fan of Caribou's hot chocolate.

Mu said...

We come as far as Michigan! Shesh! AND we came out for a Buttri show. AND your last visit does not really count since it was aimed at getting to Pittsburgh to see your lovin' wife.

I want good hot chocolate!

lonface said...

very good!